A Little Boy Grows Up – Through the Eyes of an Optometrist

Cute asian boy doing eye test.I strongly believe that children with undetected vision and ocular health problems can face many challenges in life academically, emotionally, and athletically. Every child deserves to have high quality eye care to assist them in succeeding all of life’s obstacles and adventures. Be aware that a vision screening performed at a pediatrician’s office is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam at an optometrist’s office. Vision screenings are a very limited process and will not evaluate how healthy a child’s eyes are or how well their eyes work together. It is important to have a relationship with a caring and knowledgeable eye doctor who is invested in a child’s growing visual world.

During my first year of private practice as an optometrist, I met a handsome little boy named Connor. Connor’s mom wanted to bring him to me for a comprehensive eye exam. Being only seven, he was curious and very excited for his first eye exam. The only thing big about him were his large, blue eyes behind his long eyelashes. To reach the height of my slit lamp microscope, Connor had to sit on his knees within the exam chair as I examined him.

In the course of the preliminary testing, I could already tell that Connor’s vision in his left eye was slightly weaker compared to his right eye. Due to this slight visual imbalance, he could not pass a standard depth perception test. Also, his left eye could not focus up close on smaller print to read as well as his right eye. Connor’s difficulties were due to a combination of farsightedness and astigmatism in his left eye. I prescribed a pair of eyeglasses which would allow his left eye to see more clearly, receive an accurate visual signal, and promote proper visual development.

My staff and I had a lot of fun selecting the perfect frame to complement Connor’s adorable face. We taught him how to properly handle and care for his new glasses. Knowing how important his glasses will be for is eye development, I encouraged him to always wear them reading and all near visual tasks.

Throughout the next ten years, he would return for each of his subsequent annual eye exams. His visits gave me the opportunity to get a glimpse of his world. Each visit allowed me to know what is important to him, and how I could provide him the clearest picture to that world. When baseball became his world, I introduced him to contact lenses to improve his hand-eye coordination. I knew that when his eyes were red and itchy that the pollen index was above 5.0, and he would need some prescription eye drops for his eye allergies. When he got his first life-guarding job, we discussed the benefits of UV and glare protection with the use of polarized sunglasses. When he told me he was about to test for his driver’s license, I was confident that I had prepared his eyes to pass the visual exam with flying colors. As Connor’s world shifted towards a world of digital devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, I warned him about overexposure to blue light from these device screens which can be harmful. I advised him on how to take visual breaks away from his monitors and ways to block the harmful blue light before they eventually damage his retinae.

This summer, Connor came in for his typical annual eye exam. He had just completed his final year of high school and was leaving for college in the fall. I could not help but feel so many different emotions about him leaving for college. In the past ten years, I have been seeing the world the way Connor has seen it. In that moment, I saw how fast all those years had passed through my exam room. I was happy, proud, and sad to see how Connor was transformed from the little boy that barely fit into the exam chair to a young man who I now need to look upwards to in order to speak directly to him. It has been incredible and almost unbelievable how much life has changed for him. In my small contribution, I have had the honor and privilege to help him achieve his full potential by providing him with the best eye care that I knew how.

About the Author

Dr. Teri Hung graduated from University of Houston College of Optometry in 2001. Following graduation, she practiced for several years in an ophthalmology practice specializing in advanced refractive surgeries. She is the founder and co-owner of Eye Elements, a multi-location optometric group in the Atlanta metroplex. Dr. Teri is a highly trained optometrist with a lifelong passion for eye health, contact lens developments, and optical frame designs. She is inspired to integrate ocular care with overall medical health. Dr. Teri is actively involved in the eye care industry, having participated in FDA clinical research, industry focus groups, and public speaking. Dr. Teri is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Georgia Optometric Association.


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